I've started taking one of my dogs, Fenway, for acupuncture in hopes that we can relieve whatever it is that is bothering him in his spine and causing a limp.
You read that right... Acupuncture. For my dog. I'm a big believer in acupuncture myself, and my only concern with having it done to my dog was wondering how he would sit still for the treatment. It turns out I didn't need to worry. After an initial greeting with the vet, Fenway was happy to settle in on the dog bed while the needles were inserted. Then we stayed there for 20 minutes while whatever takes place during acupuncture takes place.
I don't understand acupuncture or how it works, and I don't feel the need to. What I know is that Fenway reacted much the same way I do when I have an acupuncture treatment. He became super relaxed and sleepy. The first session, he climbed up on my lap and fell asleep. At our next session, he just laid on the bed by himself. Having just returned from South Africa, I laid next to him and snoozed a bit myself as I waited for the vet to return to the room.
The vet and I were making small talk as he removed the needles, and he mentioned what a great dog Fenway is. He referred to him as "one in a million". A proud mom moment for sure, and I happily accepted the compliment. Flash to this morning - my husband sent me an article published in a magazine titled "There's No Such Thing as a Good Dog, Only a Good Dog Owner." While I mostly agree with the article at its core (being responsible for training, socializing, etc.), it does seem a little over-generalized and honestly, a little judgmental. While I would love to take credit for the fantastic and charismatic dog that Fenway is, the truth is that I picked his particular breed because they are such an easy going, eager to please dog. And I bought him from a breeder who I knew was helping to start him out on his path to being an amazing dog during his first eight weeks of life. Can I take credit for some of his wonderfulness? I'm sure I can, but does that mean that I should also acknowledge my part in allowing the things he does that drive me crazy (barking at any dog he sees on TV and finding dead things to roll in immediately come to mind)? Probably so, but the truth is that all of his behaviors, the good and the bad, and just part of the puzzle that makes up our intricate relationship and the lessons he is working on with me.
To say that there are no good dogs, only good owners also generalizes that if you do everything right - train and socialize your dog properly and to the best of your ability, that you will have a good dog. I tried my hand at rescuing a dog and foolishly thinking that because I had really great dogs of the same breed that of course, I could fix this one. I worked with this particular rescue dog longer and harder than I've worked with any of my other dogs, only to have her not be a good dog. So I know that there is so much more to it than that.
As hard as that dog was for me, and as much of a "not good" dog she was, she had lessons she was working on with me. They indeed weren't easy lessons, but I'm pretty sure by the end I understood what she was teaching me. And now, almost a decade later, I still look back on those lessons and remind myself how important they were. I did my best, as I always do, to be a good dog owner with her. And it turns out she was a good dog, despite how she might have looked to others.
PS: Want to learn how to communicate with your animals yourself? I'll be teaching an afternoon workshop at All That Matters in East Greenwich, RI on Saturday, April 14th. Join me there if you are interested! www.allthatmatters.com